Friday I presented at ConvergeSouth 2012 in Greensboro. I gave a talk about how to use social media productively, by which I mean getting results without having to spend 18 hours a day online. Below are my slides.
I saw this morning that Chris Brogan, one of the social media world’s A-listers and guiding lights, has closed his LinkedIn account, which included more than 16,000 contacts and 143 recommendations. Many of us would kill for a network that big and that strong, but apparently it wasn’t working for him.
Last week, GM made headlines when it announced, just days before Facebook’s IPO, that it was canceling its $10 million ad spend with the social network. It wasn’t getting the return it needed apparently. Others have also criticized Facebook’s ads (Ryan Holliday of American Apparel, for example).
Does this mean you should dump LinkedIn? Maybe cancel all your Facebook ads?
Unless your Chris Brogan or GM, these incidents don’t mean anything. Play your game, not someone else’s game.
Easy to say, right? But the question is, how do you actually do that? Are we never supposed to pay attention to what others are doing? Are there never lessons there? Fair enough.
Here’s how you play your own game.
1. Know what your goals are.
2. Know how your going to measure those goals and what metrics are going to account along the way. (For anything online, report bottom-line measurements to the boss, but you’ll need to measure other things to actually move toward those sales-and-profit-oriented objectives.)
3. Start doing stuff to try to move those metrics in the right direction. Yes, should look at case studies, listen to the experts and evaluate your options based on your own experience. In other words, take your best guess. But you won’t know what will work and how well until you actually do something.
4. Once you start doing stuff, per step 3, then you can figure out what’s working (and try to make it work better) and figure out what’s not working (and fix it or stop it).
Rinse and repeat.
It’s really not that hard.
So, a giant car maker dropping Facebook ads and a social media A-lister dropping LinkedIn is interesting. But it has nothing to do with your marketing efforts.
Do you disagree? How are you evaluating your digital marketing efforts? Please leave a comment below.
P.S. I need to say that I think Chris Brogan is a smart guy and I think he’s right about 90 percent of the time when it comes to social media. But my point stands: Listen to what he says and think about it means to your business, but don’t blindly mimic him, or GM or anyone else.
You mean Facebook page “likes” don’t matter? The amount of traffic to your website is irrelevant? And the number of Twitter followers isn’t worth counting?
Whoa, Nelly, let’s slow down a bit here. Those metrics do count, and if you’re in online marketing or social media, you should watch them closely. The key is understanding what they really mean and how to use them.
The experts are right in that if these metrics are the only thing you measure, your online efforts are doomed. If you tell the CEO how many people “Like” the company on Facebook, then that person has every right to fire back with “How is that driving our sales?”
So yes, report the metrics that count to leadership: How many new sales leads your efforts have generated, how much increased revenue (or better yet, profit) you’re responsible for, how much you’ve boosted awareness of the brand. That’s all good and well.
But actually driving those numbers in the direction that makes the boss happy requires more insight. You’ve got to know what levers you can press to move the bottom-line numbers. The best way to figure this out is to understand what kind of sales and marketing funnel you’re working with. (If you don’t know what a sales and marketing funnel is, here’s a good explanation.)
Boost the top line to drive the bottom line
Let me give you an example here. Let’s say your target metric is the number of website lead-gen forms you get potential customers to fill out. Before people can fill out the form, they’ve got to visit your website. And even once they’re on the website, they have to believe that they can trust with their information, that you can deliver something of value to them (hopefully the product or service you’re selling), and that it’s worth their time to give you their contact information.
To start with, let’s say you’re getting two leads a day through your online form. And let’s say you’re getting 20 visits a day to the page with your lead-gen form, and 200 visits a day to your website. One way to increase the number of leads you get is increase the number of visits to the lead-gen form and, a farther up the funnel, increase the number or website visits you’re getting.
This is based on a pretty basic sales principle: If you want to close more deals, make more calls.
I think of these kind of metrics as “top of the funnel” stats. They’re not numbers you necessarily include in your report to the boss, but they are numbers you need to monitor, understand and move if you’re going to deliver the bottom-line results the boss wants.
In most companies, social media lives in marketing and/or corporate communications. That’s fine for brand and corporate efforts, but if your company’s social media activities are restricted to just those two functions, you’re not getting everything out of social media that you could be.
Companies should think about social media at two levels:
- The brand level, which typically involves tactics such as corporate Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, corporate blogs and formal social media campaigns.
- The employee level, which requires empowering as many of your employees as possible to engage with the outside world using social media tools with the goal of doing their jobs better.
If your company has on-staff recruiters, a sales force, R&D specialists and customer service staffers who are not using social media, chances are they’re not as effective as they could be.
So how do you go about implementing something like this? Here are four steps I’d start with:
- Write (or, if needed, revise) your social-media policy so it is simple and clear for employees to follow, and not only protects your company, but also encourages employees to tap social media tools to do their jobs better.
- Deliver training in social media for employees in sales, business development, human resources, customer service, R&D and other nonmarketing, non-PR functions.
- Provide ongoing support for employees using social media in their professional capacity. That could include everything from arranging for professional photographs for LinkedIn and with other social media profiles to paying for social media apps for employees’ smart phones. You might even think about retaining a social media coach to work with individuals.
- Develop a formal process to help new employees understand how they can (and should) use social media. Chances are they won’t have gotten this training in their last job.
If you have other ideas about companies can move their social media activities to the next level, I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.